Campaign of the Month: August 2018

The Praise of Old Men

Ugnan's Notebook - Deeper Musings
Headaches aplenty

The paunchy healer gets to his feet, “So,” Ugnan pauses for a moment to make sure everyone is listening, “it’s been a week since we got back from the Island. We’ve tailed some people, explored a bit, bought a few nice things, and spent time in libraries and administration buildings. I’d like to sum up what I’ve got written down here.” He waggles his worn leather covered notebook with an ink stained hand.

“Back at the Island, Dirn told us about the mysterious riders who appeared three weeks before us. They were strangers who went straight up to the house in the evening and thundered back to the docks at dawn. Luckily, they dropped a small copper token which had stamp of a palm print. This was the emblem of the White Hand, a newly established dangerous bunch from Sel-Kai who specialise in drugs, extortion and now it seems, assassinations. This is also the same White Hand who Olvar moved goods to.”

Licking his thumb, he smiles to himself then flicks over a page, “The ghost with no tongue is Leonal Orgillion (4306 – 4396). His portrait was bolted to the wall though looks like someone tried to prise it off and scratch out his name. We couldn't find any record of why his tongue was removed but he died of old age, so it wasn't fatal.” He scrapes away something from the bottom of the page, “The missing diary in the house was the one we found on the body in the crypt.” After moving onto the next page, he continues, “Deltar is central. We’ve been following him and should hear back shortly. We do know he married into Betaran and then they bought the manor, very likely at his request. It is most likely his scheme rather than theirs. No one has heard of Quaal, a minor backwater probably, but he must’ve checked out if Betaran let him marry in. However, we know different as, after speaking with our ex-pirates, they told us of how he arranged to smuggle out small amounts of kidnapped Sel-Kai residents, store them at the Manor until enough of them gathered to make the trip to Plasidar worthwhile. There, they sold them as slaves and bought weapons with the proceeds before shipping those back to Sel-kai.” He looks up from the page for a moment, frowning in thought, “Makes you wonder why they need all those weapons really. Enough to arm a good force I’d say or to sell to make a pretty piece. Anyway,” His bloodshot eyes dart downwards again, “concerning Elgata, those ships he hired us to find out about were on a crucial venture. If attacked, then Elgata would have lost a lot of money and greatly annoyed a powerful patron. Thanks to us, they managed to avoid this. Eloen thought that Betaran would not be so open with a direct attack and believes this to be pirates and or a Deltar thing. He added that it was very unlikely that Deltar knows the patron but would know the cargo was worth stealing.”

He pauses, nods slightly, then says hesitantly at first, “Maybe not relevant to the matter in hand of the Iron Bell but we also found out more about Getan Elgata, Aldaran’s non-identical twin. He was establishing new trade routes with Jaiman focused on timber and was giving new impetus to the business but was found floating in canal with his throat cut. On the evening of the death, one guard was poisoned and never recovered and the other man guarding him claimed he was struck from behind. Getan was coming from a house of ill repute, the Red Curtain, when attacked. He was there for hours and had been there before on several occasions. Elgata would love to crack that mystery.” He absently strokes his coin purse.

“Right, never mind that for the moment. Before disbanding the Spicers, the Prince had a private meeting though the documents do not say who with but the following morning the Prince summoned councillors and ordered that the guild be closed. Strangely, the Spicers did not appeal or protest it. It’s also of note that the Spicers guild was set up to look into the mystery of the Dragons and in the same year of their forced closure (5704) the Great White Dragon was seen in Eidolon the floating city.”

He looks up out the window as he turns another page. “A few answers about the inhabitants of the manor. Hywell didn't have any brothers, sisters or children who died young thus the four children in the crypt remains a mystery. It looks like T’Chagga would have easily survived on vermin in the house for 60 years and was likely waiting all along. Leopold and Dasidara’s marriage was scandalous as she was carrying Larkrise and Sunset in her belly from another man’s seed at the time. Research shows Dasidara wanted the asylum to be set up and she put a lot of her own money into it. She is quoted as saying the Spicers were as guilty as anyone and should help those seers and prophets who needed rest and help because of their studies and work. Speaking of research, there has been a lot of research on automata and transferring someone’s essence into one, allowing them to greatly expand their lifespan. The one we have is unique and very tough. But it is lifeless though looks like it may pull a soul from magical people. The symbols on the ward would keep T’Chagga from it. If that demon had taken over it then it would have been able to roam around the island!” He taps part of the page he is reading, “Ah, that reminds me, I must make a note to go to the healing houses and ask about murders using poisoned thread.”

He turns towards the writing desk before changing his mind, “No, better cover these last pages first! The Asylum! Those sketches did not resemble the huge misshapen creatures which we now know to be flesh golems. The code over the doors was just a counting system though, interestingly, Larkrise and Sunset were the first two patients. There were notes to keep them apart but when a mistake was made that put them together strange events started happening. Other patients had break-downs, guards started hearing and seeing things and then there was the fire. It was intense, probably arcane in nature and it allowed Larkrise and Sunset to escape. The cruciform murders happened afterwards. We’ve drawn a map, look how those lines cross.” He nods towards the writing table.

As some of the others study the map, he takes a quick swig from his silver flask, “If I may continue? Good. We investigated rituals around inscribing bones and found very little specifics but generally, if the Fey own you then they will engrave their markings by magic upon your very living bones. That child’s finger we found was the only one with the markings so someone, owned by the Fey, made it out of the room minus a finger. By the way, the Fey give us Essaence and it ebbs and flows because of their battles between the Winter and Summer Courts. Well that’s what that book said, it may not all be true. Other books did corroborate that portals are commonly used and that if their magic comes from the Fey then it stands to reason that Queen Mab has a lot to do with portal magic. This also explains why the Winter Fey have been drawn to us as both Sylke and I use portal magic. We know they have as a winter sylph of the Fey has been observing us, that was that blue creature on the docks and in the Asylum. The winter Fey use them for spying and gathering info. Staying with portals, the one in the Old Sword is on the site where the Spicers guild used to be.”

He considers his audience for a moment, “Look, this may come in handy therefore you might as well know about these Fey. The Summer and Winter courts are rivals. Both are forbidden from interacting with us, we would have to go to them. They each have one chosen champion, the Winter Knight and the Summer Knight, and they are from our world. Queen Mab is the ruler of the winter court and Titania of the Summer. Both courts are structured the same. There is a king, but he is not as important as the Queen. There are three of them for each court. The Queen That Was, That Is, and That Will Be. The most powerful is the Crone or the Queen That Was who is retired. The Queen That Is are those that hold the power, Queen Mab and Titania. These two hate each other but still need each other so will never totally destroy one another’s court. Finally, the Queens Who Will Be are the Summer Lady and Winter lady and are the Queens in waiting. They are the ones to watch as they want power.”

“Azydaer!” He proclaims rather too loudly as he tries to keep his companions’ attention, “This is the realm of Demons. The books say the Fey stop them from coming into the mundane world. The Fey don’t want this world to die as if the world dies then magic dies and then they die. So, we may have allies in the Fey! Well, if she can stop shouting at us for a moment!” He snorts then looks towards his shield fearfully, “Though lovely women that Queen Mab! I’d love to give her back the Heart of Agoth but all the books pertaining to it have been taken elsewhere. Possibly to the upper floor of the arcane library we were at. I wish she’d given us more information.” He leaves his gaze on the shield. “We couldn't find anything on the phrase, ‘Unkissed, unloved, unwanted, unremembered, forgotten’ either.”

After a moment, he shrugs and turns to his final page. “The Cult of the Bell or Iron Bell. There were no arcane references to this, but the administration bureau had some reports of rumours of this cult. Some murderers have confessed to doing wrong on the orders of the cult but that’s it, hence they are not well known, may not be big or are very secretive. We have an idea where they are, and where Patience may be too. There are huge cisterns under the city which hold large amounts of clean drinking water. Ancient, they are no longer used as the city got too big for the cisterns and their pumps to keep up. Those pumps may or may not have stopped working and we have no maps of the cisterns though they would be under the older part of city. And that’s all I’ve got.”

He pops his journal into the inside of his jacket and sits down.

Chapter Two: The Cultists Of Sel-kai: Part One

Loose Ends & A New Quest

Before they return to Sel-kai, the party decide to try and wrap up some loose ends, prompted in no small way by Ugnan's musings over all they have discovered. Returning to the village of Bajorkham, they speak to Dirn about the two riders who fled the Orgillion Estate weeks before T'Chagga wiped out the slavers in the manor house. Dirn tells the party that the two men arrived in Bajorkham late one afternoon and then headed up the house that evening. Both riders hurtled back through the village in the small hours, a little before light and almost trampled Dirn. One of the riders swerved abruptly and an amulet he was wearing got tugged off by a small branch on the old oak that stands in the centre of the market square. Dirn is quite happy to trade the cheap metal amulet for a few silver coins; the amulet bears the emblem of a palm. Both Cherry and Sylke spot the significance of this, the "palm" is an emblem used by the dangerous criminal syndicate known as The White Hand. The party can recall that in one of the chambers, they came across a bed and the tell-tale sign of a poisoning: tiny threads stretched down from the ceiling above the bed and the threads smelled quite acrid. 

A return to the house to gather the last of the books that Ugnan is keen to recover allows the party an opportunity to identify the ghostly apparition (Chapter One: Part 12) they encountered in one of the upstairs chambers.  A study of the family portraits that still hang in the manor eventually identifies the spirit as Loanal Orgillion (4306-4396).  


In progress ….


Ugnan's Notebook - More Questions than Answers?
The Expanded Ugnan Conjecture

As Ugnan waits aboard the ship he has been looking through his small notebook, mumbling to himself, crossing items out, adding others and flipping between pages.

When the party are reunited, he asks them to indulge him for what will be a lengthy summation of what he can remember of the events so far and steps he suggests they do next. Clearing his throat, he begins.

“Concerning Deltar, we know he used Captain Cutter of the Pirates of Plasidar to smuggle drugs and weapons. These are used to finance ‘a new hub’. Deltar was based at the asylum. This was probably kept secret from House Betaran. He is Aenor of Quaal who is recently married to Satha of House Betaran (rivals of House Alaxatan). Was this before purchase of Orgillion Manor? He hired us to steal shipping information from House Elgata even though House Betaran have no real rivalry with them, so he is doing it for some other reason. These weapons are moved by Olvar (supposed thief of his original gort crates) via hand carts. Deltar was using House Betaran's Manor House on Teaque Island where more ‘goods’ are expected. Elgata think Betaran do not know this. Betaran bought the Orgillion manor only a year ago. Was Deltar trading slaves for weapons? Where are the slaves coming from? Where are they going to? His smuggled weapons are intended for the ‘Cult of the Bell’ or Iron bell.”

Raising a hand to any questions, “Please let me finish. I have a lot to say. Now the manor,” He nods his head in the direction of the Orgillion house, “About a month ago two riders sped through Speyer at night towards the small docks. What caused this? Similar (pirate smuggled) weapons to those found in the asylum are here too so we know there is a connection. Now, that demon, T'Chagga was summoned in 5966. He was in the manor all along then feasted on slaves and slavers. He lived with that cravat and old-fashioned business suited ghost that had no tongue. Who was he? Then there was poison that dripped down a thread to a comfy chair only "weeks old". Who killed who? Were those riders to Speyer connected? It takes just over a day to sail to Sel-Kai so surely Deltar would know? Finally, that missing diary between 5962-5. Where is it? Those riders take it? The summoning was successful in 5966, so it should have good summoning information in it? Is this the notebook we found on Tobias?”

He takes a quick swig from a water bottle and forges ahead, “Back at Sel-Kai, Braern owned the warehouse that was burned but blamed Edyrm Crahana who denied it. The night the warehouse burned Braern had rented a hand cart that was returned with green wax all over it. This green wax came from wax makers and the rope holding this barrel was cut, we're not sure if it was the arguing husband and wife owners or someone else but we do know the barrels were taken by Olvar to a warehouse owned by Ioren Tasalmis. Ioren is new arrival and owns a small office near The Drake's Lair and another warehouse. Is he Olvar's new employer? Ioren is in league with the powerful and dangerous House Alaxatan who are not friendly with Deltar’s wife’s house, Betaran. Olvar had prior knowledge as he moved goods from Braern’s warehouse that was going to be torched. Strangely he is used later to move Deltar's goods again (with his blessing) though this time from Asylum to somewhere? The ‘new hub?’? On the matter of Houses, Aldaran Elgata, head of a family who are honourable but ruthless, have pissed off House Jurgon and Maledaar over a lost contract who may have killed his twin brother but Yellin (younger brother) is due to be cut off though nothing legal done yet could also be killer or have other motivations?”

After wiping a fleck of spittle from the corner of his mouth he continues, “There is also the fey to think about. That mirror in The Old Sword, an Inn formerly ran by Kloots is a portal we think? A mirror was used as one by Yelin Elgata so it’s a good bet though Lyssa warned, 'She Who Waits’ (Queen Mab) lurks and watches in every mirror’ so there is a risk with these. That voice outside window of Old Sword's creepy room, ‘Unkissed, unloved, unwanted, unremembered, forgotten. Where does that fit in? What do we know about Azydaer? A known inhabitant was that daemonic Loari Elf, T'Chagga, who murders for blood and consorts with Ghouls, so it is not a good place! Which reminds me, on the way back from retrieving Deltar's crates a small creature was seen that then dropped into canal and disappeared. Also seen on handover. Was it a Water Sprite? Was that the same small blue creature we saw in the asylum? And talking of that place, who was that enormous misshapen man tending/operating on an equally deformed woman. Larkrise and Sunset? Though we know they escaped in the fire of 5738. How old would they be now? Were they Elvish? Was that their code used on the inmates’ cells? And those poor children who committed suicide by wedging themselves in a burning room. Some bones had engravings on them, ‘I belong to Queen Mab, I belong to Queen Mab’. Who made the engravings and for what purpose? The Iron Bell? Larkrise and Sunset wrote about them, but they also knew T'Chagga could tell the future so maybe he told them of this cult that Patience told us to find ‘where the waters are stored beneath the city, where The Iron Bell tolls’? So that about sums up the last seventeen days from what I can remember."

He smiles at his companions, “Just over two weeks we have known each other, it feels so much longer! I have many, many questions and ask you please indulge me further with what I want to do, and you feel the same way. Before we leave Teaque Island, the riders one month past went to the docks. Find out what ship they left on. Did anyone speak to them? What they running from? Look for pictures of the Orgillions in the Manor. Do any resemble the ghost with no tongue? If identified, what were the circumstances and date of death? Can we confirm Tobias’ journal is missing diary from 5962-5? When we get back to Sel-kai let’s put a tail on Deltar. He is central. He is working with Iron Bell. He lost his crates and needed them to fund the "hub". Was his marriage before or after purchase of Orgillion Manor? Was this part of his scheme? He is Aenor of Quaal. Where is Quaal? What is his background? Presumably Betaran checked him out. What did they find? Who is responsible for security for Betaran? Can we grass up Aenor in exchange for information once we have had out own discrete enquiries? Deltar trades slaves for goods. Any reports of raids that take people rather than goods? Missing persons significantly increased? Let’s check with the surviving pirates what the movements of Cutter has been. Elgata – Why did Deltar want shipping data? For Pirates to plunder? Something special on any of those three boats? Let’s check with Elgata. While we’re at that, was Aldaran Elgata's twin an identical? What were the circumstances of his murder? We have others to tail too. Olvar, can we rule him out? Is he just a conveyer of goods? He moves Deltar's crates to his wife's enemy but then helps Deltar later. Has Deltar threatened him once we make Olvar's identity known? Lean on Braern, we know he rented the cart used to move Deltar's goods by Olvar before the warehouse fire. We know he fears Olvar. Why? Why did Olvar return the cart if he did not know Braern? Does Braern know Ioren Tasalmis? Tail Ioren Tasalmis. Burgle his office and check his other warehouse – Why has Olvar chosen his warehouse to move Deltar's goods to it? While you stealthy, invisible and scary types are doing that I’ll need to hit the major libraries, offices and anywhere else you can suggest for the following questions. Spicers guild was disbanded in 5704 (7 years after donating to build the Asylum (built in 5704)) by order of Prince. Can this order be found? Why was it disbanded? Did Hwyell Orgillion have brothers and sisters who died young that may explain four dead children in crypt? (Possibly used for sacrifice, how old are bones?) T'Chagga – What happens to Demons when they starve? Does he need blood, or can he get by with normal food like mice and rats? The demon was alone in the house for 60 years so what was he doing? That thread poisoning there, any other deaths reported this way in Sel-Kai?” He gazes down at the next item in his notebook, “Leopold Orgillion and Dasidara Damssen (parents of Larkrise and Sunset) marriage in 5730 – why scandalous? Who was their father if not Leopold?”

He looks at Sylke, “Those sketches of them from the Orgillion manor, do they look like the misshapen male and female in the Asylum? And that place, what were the accounts of the fire? How did it start? Larkrise and Sunset were admitted a few years before and escaped during it. Is there a cruciform murders link? The Asylum's codes for inmates – Common code? Larkrise and Sunset’s code or a general thing? Are there accounts of ritual sacrifices with engraved bones? Are they only linked to Mab? Only to the fey? What sort of ceremonies do these sacrifices take part in? What is there purpose? Finally concerning that wretched place, I’ll need to research small blue creatures like one seen in Asylum. Is this same as the one who observed us moving Deltar’s crates?”

He flips over a page and taps the top item with his finger, “The Old Sword is somehow linked too, we need to find out about portal mirrors. Is Mab or the fey in general a known risk when using them? Elgata use them so should know. Can denizens of Azydaer interfere/scry mirrors like Mab as well? I’m also going to search for the phrase, ‘Unkissed, unloved, unwanted, unremembered, forgotten.’ Then there is the more general research about Azydaer and what that is. To find out more about ‘The Heart of Agoth’. That Kloot Seer said,” He thumbs back a few pages, “Yes, here it is, ‘Whoever possess the Heart will have taken the soul of Mab and will be thricely cursed’ Thricely? Soul of Mab? Stolen? Where from? How could you even attempt it? Who did it? The cult? I’ll need to scour the archives for any references to the Iron Bell or the Cult of the Bell and examine the city map and speak to its residents for where the waters of Sel Kai are stored under the city, both drinking water and sewage. We might need to enlist the help of Andresin and the Gargoyles though I’m not sure where their loyalties lie so could use Mikyn to keep an eye on them.”

He shuts both his notebook and mouth.

Situation Report Seventeen
Chronicles of Cran Crannock

Ugnan performed miracles on my torn body. The stitching and forced-healing itch like a bastard, but I'm not leaking any more. The rest of the team, and the skeleton crew remaining alive, eye me warily as we attend to a myriad of tasks to secure The Wind Sprinter. Pissed-off at their glances, I row over to check on Captain Elayne.

After a couple of hours aboard The Brine checking on how her crew are faring, and discussing how I may go about learning the basics of sailing, we agree that our team has earned the right of salvage of the pirate's ship. I also agreed to burn any narcotics aboard to prevent them reaching Sel-kai and confirm we intend to retrieve some valuables from shore before departing in a day. I make eye contact with Sarissa as I depart and we both offer a faint smile. "You could do worse Cran, you could do a lot worse", I muse to myself as I row back across to our new ship.

Ugnan helps me aboard with a smile, and he looks exhausted. Sylke seems to be holding her own in a game of dice, and Cherry and Sharna seem to have found a wonderful ships-cook aboard, Wilclef, together with his loyal ship's boy Taavi.

The next day sees Cherry and I retrieving some valuables from the Orgillion Estate using a couple of wagons rented from the old peddler Gosern in Bajorkham. Despite the cold, an inevitable run-in with Sherif Dirn and the boring work loading cargo, I'm surprisingly energized when I finally get back aboard The Wind Sprinter.

It feels like Spring is around the corner.

Chapter One: The Spice Merchants Of Sel-kai: Part Seventeen
6056.1.45 to 6056.1.47

Salvage Rights

The crew of Captain Elayne's ship, The Brine, are only too pleased to be released from their captivity in the two holds of the pirate vessel. The Wind Sprinter's holds are also packed with cargo: large quantities of wheat, rye and coffee that are destined for sale in Sel-kai, judging by the marking on the crates, the party think these came from Lethys. There are also a number of crates, hidden under some dislodged sacks of wheat that contain quantities of narcotics. Captain Cutter's journal makes it clear that these were to be used to finance "a new hub" in Sel-kai. The flag locked away in his draw of a white swan is more evidence of a link between the Pirates of Plasidar and Aenor of Quaal. The Captain's journal also reveals that the crates of weapons found in the Hadeshill Asylum, Aenor's base of operations, are intended for the Cult Of The Bell.

After an awkward period on board The Brine with Sarissa, Cran decides to claim the ship as "salvage" (Ugnan remains quiet that the true term would be "Prize" as defined by Sel-kai Maritime Law) and to fire the illegal drugs. Cran and his companions quickly estimate that running a vessel the size of The Windsprinter will require a crew of perhaps 16 and will cost a little over 10 silver coins a week to man and berth. The cargo they estimate will comfortably get them perhaps 1000 silver pieces. Among the drugs however, the party also some find some healing herbs that they decide to keep for the time being. Rewk (50 nodules),  Fek (3 nuts), Tarnas (2 nodules) and 2 Nur-oil​​​​​​olosse cloves. 

Four of the pirate crew still survive and though these are undoubtedly hard and potentially ruthless fighters, the party decide after much deliberation to keep them as crew rather than ruthlessly "remove" them. They will undoubtedly need a firm captain but Cran and Cherry feel sure that they may prove an asset. Of even greater worth is the talent of the surviving ship's cook. A timid man but a culinary genius given the meal he serves that evening, "Wiclef" is more than happy to stay on board and relieved that the Wind Sprinter will now have a more conventional purpose. He has spent much of his time trying to keep the 14-year old ship's "boy", "Taavi" out of trouble. The boy is clearly intrigued by Ugnan and when Cran and Cherry go ashore to retrieve as much as they can from the Orgillion Estate in addition to their faithful beast-of-burden, the boy surreptitiously begins to shadow the healer. Returning to Bajorkham, Cran is reunited with the surly donkey and the peddlar Gosern. Well aware of the grasping nature of the island's Sheriff, the party hire two wagons using the peddlar as an intermediary. However, Dirn is still able to track the party down and Cran is forced to buy the corrupt official off (the princely sum of 15 copper coins a month).

The party are able to fill the wagons with selected pieces of furniture, books from the library and treasure that they uncovered in the crypt. They also, after some debate, retrieve the strange golem crafted by Titus Orgillion. 

Situation Report Sixteen
Chronicles of Cran Crannock

I need a rest. My bones ache and the gash in my side that Ugnan force-healed itches like billio.

We trudge back towards the bay where the ship is moored looking forward to a few days recuperation. But what's this? There's a small, sleek ship next to The Brine and smoke tendrils are drifting in the wind above Sarissa's ship! Looks like The Wind Sprinter – always knew that Captain Cutter was a devious bastard. I look at Ugnan skeptically and suggest we jog over as fast as we can.

"Come on old man, you're looking trim. Think you can run to the bay?"

Ugnan sighs and mutters, "I'll give it a go. This body is still well padded for the winter."

We descend a little-used path, on the lookout for assailants. As we near the secluded bay we spot three rough-looking sailors loading barrels of fresh water into a rowing boat. With little time for niceties, Ugnan casts some enchantment on me that enhances my sunny demeanour and I stride onto the sand to explain that we're taking the boat in as succinct a manner as I can muster.

"Fuck-off or die."

Ably backed up by a hidden Sylke, Cherry and Sharna, for a fleeting moment I think the three may have the balls to stand up to us, but they consider the odds and run off down the beach.

I look out to sea as we drag the rowing boat into the small swell and everyone hops aboard. Must be close to a mile off-shore – so much for a rest.

Cherry and Sylke keep their heads down in the boat while the rest of us pull our hoods up in a vague attempt at deception. Thirty minutes later and we close on The Wind Sprinter.

"When you've got a difficult job to do, it's better to start it than to live with the fear of it", my old man used to say, so with no second thought I start scrambling up the rat-lines to the deck, closely followed by the whole crew.

An alarmed pirate looking over the railing screams, "We're being boarded. All hands!", and a bloody skirmish kicks-off. There must be six of the bastards on deck.

Cherry and Sharna take some nasty bloody wounds from the long-knives carried by the pirates. I don't see Sylke, but later discover she somehow jumped to the crows-nest, where she calmly rains down destruction on the pirates from relative safety. I call a retreat to the stern where we might be able to defend ourselves a little better.

As I take a pulsing wound to my thigh, my vision swim for a few seconds with the pain. Then, amid the sprays of blood from my wound and from the swinging blade of my axe, I lose my shit completely.

"The boulder's about to roll down hill boys. Who wants to get squashed!"

My peripheral vision darkens and I bellow like a fatally wounded bull as my axe does its bloody work.

The crew are making headway with some fancy spell-craft: Stunning a group of pirates; flashes of bright light and a relentless stream of crackling shock-bolts from the crows-nest keep the bastards on their toes. Sharna is gamely throwing pirates around, but is taking some serious wounds. I catch sight of Cherry sniping from inside a covered row-boat on the deck.

And my axe continues to do it's beautiful work: Pirates are cleaved from neck to spine; pirates lose arms; pirates fall to the deck with fatal sucking chest wounds, pissing their breeches. I'm surrounded by foes on all sides. This is the life, Boulder. This is the life.

I vaguely hear a voice like mine bellowing, "Who's next eh? Who's fucking next?"

Then the smirking face of Captain Cutter appears in front of me. Cock-sure bastard has a white shirt on of all things, and a couple of Kynack.

Sylke hits him with a shock bolt and he looks ready to faint. I roar with laughter as my axe takes his right arm off just below the shoulder, bites deep into his chest, and the glorious blood sprays into my face.

"Right, who's next?"

I stagger towards the back of the ship, blood from three wounds mingling with the fresh gore from my bloody work. Where did the bastards go?

Then it all goes dark as I slide into cool, blissful unconsciousness against a bulwark…

Chapter One: The Spice Merchants Of Sel-kai: Part Sixteen


Emerging from the Orgillion crypt into the fast-fading light of a damp afternoon, the party can make out the great sweep of the southern coastline of Teaque Island. They can see the ship they arrived on, The Brine, sitting at anchor but thin smoke rises from its tattered sails and a far sleeker vessel lurks nearby. Their ship has obviously been attacked by raiders! Hurrying south along a trail that was clearly used by the slavers using the Orgillion manor house, they soon arrive at a secluded cove. Three sailors, injured from a previous fight, are loading what looks like fresh water into a row boat. The partially dismembered corpse of a fourth sailor some way up the trail suggests that these men were attacked a few days ago by the ghouls that Cran and the others fought back in the house.

Cran decides on a direct approach to deal with the sailors and secure their dinghy and the hulking warrior marches down to confront the men whilst Sharna and the others select positions up on the cliffs and path that will offer cover and an advantage should a fight begin. Cran tells the sailors in no uncertain terms to leave and simply tells them that, "I need your boat." With the aid of a clever spell cast by Sylke, the forbidding presence of the huge man is enough to cow the sailors and after just a moments hesitation, they wisely take Cran's advice and head for the village.

Rowing the boat to the ship, The Wind Sprinter, Cran immediately attempts to board the ship but the crew are alerted and a fight develops. Outnumbered, Cherry is injured as she boards and retreats. Cran and Sharna very quickly are engaged by multiple foes and by sheer weight of numbers, the pirates take the upper hand. Sharna takes a severe wound to her hip and begins to bleed heavily; Cran is soon hit multiple times and takes a potentially mortal blow that punctures an artery in his thigh. Ugnan is also hard-pressed and desperately keeps his foe at bay whilst preparing his spells. 

The fight turns dramatically when Sylke creates a great flash of light from the top of the main mast and stuns the sailors. Helpless for a thirty precious seconds, the crew are ruthlessly struck down by an enraged Cran. Sharna is given the precious seconds she needs to recover and rejoins the fight. Meanwhile, Cherry has finally found a good defensive position to fight from and Ugnan has very cleverly enchanted one of the crew to act as a delaying distraction for the reinforcements that are arriving.

The fight has now turned and even though Captain Cutter arrives with more men, the respite offered by Sylke's magic allows the party to regroup. Ugnan begins to use his battle axe to occupy one of the pirates and Cherry starts picking off the injured with her shortbow. As Sylke readies another spell, Sharna swallows an enchanted herb and returns to the fight almost instantly hurling one of the ship's crew over the side of the vessel. Cran, still bleeding heavily from a score of wounds, seems insensible to the beating he is taking from multiple foes and methodically begins to murder the crew around him. Ugnan shudders as Cran mutters, "One swing at a time. You, my friend, need working on". Some of the crew now balk at the fight and when Cran brutally severs the weapon arm of Captain Cutter, many turn and run. The fight is over.

Oblivious to his wounds and completely enveloped in his red mist, Cran heads after the fleeing sailors only to collapse near one of the ship's cabins. Ugnan sighs heavily and attends to the big man, Cherry begins to bind Sharna's wounds….

Chapter One: The Spice Merchants Of Sel-kai: Part Fifteen

Yesterday's Heroes

Cautious and deeply suspicious of the nature of the curious "portal" that they have discovered, the party decide to investigate the locked and warded treasury that they have discovered. There are a total of six chests, four of which bear locks. Each of the four bears a single enameled letter: "M", "P", "A" or "V". The companions quickly deduce that these correspond to the four tombs that they have found and wary of traps decide to search the sarcophagi to see if they can find a safer means of opening the chests than relying on Cherry's picks. Keys are indeed found on each of the four biers, hidden in the ornate stonework of the surface detail and with some trepidation Cherry gingerly begins the task of opening the chests. All contain well preserved expensive clothing that perhaps belonged to the four "heroes" whose tombs the party have discovered. Enchanted items are also found among the clothes; the strange brass telescope is assembled by Ugnan and though its detailed workings are still something of a mystery he does discover that the item can be used to view and thus "see" the magic embedded in an item. wrist bracers (Malthus), a deck of fortune-telling cards (Patience), two copper rings (Alphaeus) and a necklace of brightly decorated seeds (Verisimilitude) are lifted out of the chests. A small buckler resting on a wooden stand and a whip, neatly coiled on a side table are similarly "detected" and picked up. While the party stow these treasures, Cran recovers the heavy mail armor from Reave The Just's chamber, it too is magical. The final two chests, both without locks, contain a magic quiver with twenty arrows (also enchanted) and a "Wing Stone" which is identified by Sylke who remembers seeing similar Stones in use; they can detect distances if dropped down a shaft, produce light and detect Essence, Mentalism and Channeling (within fifty feet).

Ugnan now uses the arcane telescope to look at the Portal that has been fashioned from an enormous mirror. The telescope is able to penetrate the icy frost that has covered the mirror and Ugnan can see beyond the mirror into a deep pine forest in full winter. Deep snow blankets everything like a shroud and hangs heavy off every branch and leaf. Wood smoke from a small crofters hut climbs into the still air, blood lies in a thick splatter near the door. Though the scene looks as if it could be from Kulthea, Ugnan is not convinced that stepping through the portal would be wise.

The party gather around the small pitted stone table in the treasure room, aware that they have still not found a way out and now turn their attention to the oddly pitted table. Cherry suggests that they use the acid in Galen's room to see if the scoring on the table is important in someway. Cran carefully ferries acid into the room from Galen's tomb using the horn and as the acid is poured onto the table, the solid stone surface reacts and liquefies to reveal a crystal scrying surface beneath. The party can see an enormous marbled throne room that seems to have been carved out of some sort of icy cavern. Huge ice crystals descend from a high vaulted ceiling and elegantly dressed courtiers dance, talk and laugh as a sting quartet plays in the distance. A stunningly beautiful and imperious woman studies her courtiers, a mix of human, elf and other races (goblins, boggarts, pixies and all manner of fey). As the party stares into the mirror she looks up from her reverie and stares back, her face contorts from an icy unreadable mask to one of absolute fury, "Return what they stole! Your world will fall and I will not care!" As she screams this at the party, she waves a hand and the table begins to turn once again to stone. Ugnan has the presence of mind to ask for more information before the scrying crystal is covered and learns that the woman seeks "The Heart Of Agoth". 

Cran is encouraged to try the horn that he carries, gathering around the large circular table in the central chamber, the party again ponder the lines and references to "heroes". Removing the silver end piece, Cran sounds the horn with a mighty blast that resonates and rumbles throughout the crypt. Sound fills the chambers and the party can hear the notes echoing above, answering noises can be heard from the sarcophagi as the five heroes the party have discovered "return". All seem friendly and converse for a brief time before reluctantly "returning" to their "slumber". It is clear that the five were a band with deep bonds of friendship and seem pleased to have been awoken, albeit for a brief span of time. They also encourage the party but refer to both themselves and the party members in a rather odd way and each seems to identify with one of the companions.

Reave The Just, "the Heart" associates with Cran and is pleased that the burly warrior has taken his armor. Malthus, "the Arm" acknowledges Sharna and is pleased with her demeanor and professionalism. Patience, "the Eyes" does not wake fully and tells Cherry that she is "chained" and unable to join her "brothers", with very limited time she tells Cherry that "Only The Heart Of Agoth will keep the Azydaer away from The Gates. Look where the waters are stored beneath the city, where The Iron Bell tolls". She too is pleased to see that someone else can now take up her mantle. Verisimilitude, "the Head" praises Ugnan for his detective work so far and infuriatingly refuses to answer any direct questions put to him; he is confidant that Ugnan will "assemble the pieces". Alphaeus, "the Voice" speaks for the longest of the five and does so with Sylke. He candidly tells her that Malthus was deeply hurt and ashamed when Patience was "lost", he tells Sylke to "Look out for The Heart, when ours broke, we fell"

All of the shades fade away and the party head back up to the Orgillion crypt. They cautiously explore the final tombs but discover little except for an odd black cube that has blocked a drain in the tomb of "Nero Orgillion, the builder". With no way out, the companions head back to the door that bars their exit. Desperate for a way out, Cherry searches the steps to see if their is a trigger mechanism for the door; replacing the four stones on the original pedestals achieves nothing. Cran and the others search amongt the debris of the collapsed statue on the eastern wall. Cherry fails to find any way out but Ugnan and Cran spot a small square crevice in the still intact plinth, exactly the same size as the black stone they recovered from Nero's tomb; this opens the door and the companions escape. They decide to take both of the crypt keys with them and lock the door behind them. They also remove the four black stones that are needed to open the hidden staircase to the second level.

The night air is damp and cold and they decide to head back to the small village of Bajorkham and their faithful beast of burden, Spotted Jim.




Situation Report Fifteen
Chronicles of Cran Crannock

Magic and Revelations

The final room is readily accessed using the three-piece-key. It contains five chests of treasure and we believe that it contains something of importance. Ugnan fills the horn and takes a full long pulls of crisp pure water, resulting an an immediate invigoration. The room contains six chests, a whip and a stand with a gold buckler.

We investigate the six chests in the room and other treasures.

The Treasures:

Large black chest trapped and locked 'M'

Studded wrist guards (+10 DB) [Sharna]

Shimmery chest, phasing in and out, with a 'P'

Ivory Fortune-Telling Cards (useful to Seers or Mentalist)

Chest un-trapped and locked with 'A'

Necklace decorated with different nutshell beads, representing a different image of animals (+25 to Linguistics, 10% chance of understanding any language) [Sylke]

Chest un-trapped and locked with a 'V'

Cherry discovers that the trap is an electrical discharge
Two magical copper rings, one plain, one broad (+1 Spell Adder; x2 Spell multiplier) [Ugnan]

Unmarked chest

Simple quiver + 20 arrows (Quiver: 5 OB and 5 initiative [Cherry] with a bow; 20x +20 magical long-bow arrows [Cran])

Unmarked chest

Wing Stone (enchanted, it can be dropped or thrown and gradually returns to the attuned persons hand, glows all the time with different colours of it detects essence, mentalism or channeling [Sylke])

Ugnan decides to construct the strange looking tube but doesn't note anything particularly insightful when he looks through it. He swings it to the glowing orb of light and it becomes clear that the telescope view changes colour when it is pointed at something magical. With this knowledge, we use it to go around the rooms again and the following items also detect as magical.

  • Whip (+5 OB, +15 climb bonus ['Indiana Jones' style – Cherry])
  • 'Phase' Chest 'P'
  • Gold Buckler (+5 DB, light, anti-gravity property that supports Ugnan's weight while slowly descending 10 ft. every two seconds) [Ugnan].
  • Chain Armour in Reave's Room (fits Cran, AT 15, encumbers as AT 13, +10 DB) [Cran].
  • Portal Mirror

As Ugnan concentrates on the portal with the telescope, he is able to focus in on a winter scene with a small hut, blood-stains in the snow outside, and a creature flits across his vision before he pulls the telescope away from his eye.

Cherry reasons that there may be hidden keys corresponding to the chests in the heroes rooms. Bingo! Her hunch is correct and after a careful search she returns, a beaming grin splitting her face, with four stone keys. The keys correspond with four of the rooms we discovered previously and the keys open them all.

Based on Cherry's suggestion I bring a horn full of acid from Galen's room and pour it on the table. We notice that the acid etches the stone to reveal a white crystal layer underneath. After many, many trips with the horn and judicious use of suitable scrapers to remove the rock slurry, we finally reveal a cold, moving scene of a great hall and the figure of a cruel cold Queen Mab! The queen turns her head towards us and intones, "return what they stole. Your world will fall, and I will not care!". The rock on the table slowly begins to reform and before it goes far, Ugnan shouts into the scrying device, "What did they steal?" Mab booms, "The Heart of Agoth."

Ugnan and Cherry are deafened by Mab's booming voice as the table finally stones over.

We decide that Cran should wind the Horn and we all feel somewhat lifted by the blast. As the notes fade we hear breathing from the surrounding rooms. Dashing through to Reave's room, we see a translucent figure materialise. Reave begins to speak with me and Ugnan. He asks what help we need, and smiles when he recognises that I'm wearing his old armour. Reave advises we speak with "The Eyes" of the heroes, Patience.

Patience appears still bound and speaks, "Only the Heart Of Agoth will keep the Azydaer away from The Gates. Look where the waters of the city are stored, where The Iron Bell tolls."

We next enter the room of Verisimilitude, who sits and speaks to Ugnan. "Ah the truth finder. Very impressive." Ugnan and I speak with Verisimilitude for a minute and he seems satisfied with Ugnan and Cran before gradually fading.

After conversing with the apparitions we link them to each of us and our roles.

  • Malthus the Mighty ["The Arm", Sharna]
  • Patience Mother of a Dynasty, First of the Seers [trapped by the demons beneath the City according to Malthus] ["The Eyes", Cherry]
  • Verisimilitude, Truth was Paramount ["The Brain", Ugnan]
  • Althaeus, His Oath is Adamant ["The Voice", Sylke]
  • Reave the Just, Defender of those Beset. He was the Mightiest. ["The Heart", Cran]

Ugnan's Hypothesis

Queen Mab is the Queen of the Azdayer. She is desperate to unlock gateways between the realm of the Fey and Kulthea. The Heart of Agoth is a device to keep the two realms apart. The old heroes strived to protect the world of men from the world of the Fey. The Iron Bell is an organization that has unknown desires.

Sylke Demands we Complete Exploring the Tomb…

We retreat back upstairs, heads still reeling from the revelations.

Next we force a warped door to find two linked tombs: 'Solase, too kind-hearted'; 'Nero, the builder.' In Nero's tomb we spot a grate in the floor, which Chery manages to prise up, revealing a drain blocked by a small black cube. Retrieving the cube we unblock the drain, and also detect that the cube is magical and Essence in nature.

Into the final room we discover nothing of any major value and the chests appear to have been looted. 'Alexander, the Designer', 'Theo, The Trader, he built ships', 'Thomas, The Diplomat, a good servant'.

Into the Damp Night Air

As we strive to find a way out of the tomb, searching everywhere, I notice a small cubic indentation in the broken statue in the entrance. The black cube fits and, with a grinding of stone, the entrance opens again. The sweet smell of freedom. Now, how do we shift the loot?

Situation Report Fourteen (Supplement - Plans and Yawns)
Chronicles of Cran Crannock

"Alright." Cran says with an uncharacteristic note of uncertainty in his voice. "We've dug a fishing hole through the ice here and discovered a whale underneath. Cherry, can you put this key together and check out the locked room? Hopefully it will have some more clues as to the heroes in this place. Sylke and Ugnan, is there anything else in these documents or writings that provides a better clue as to how we're now involved in this mess? The final decision we need to make today is, where do we go next?"

Cran glances at the door to the portal room and continues, "We either head back to The Brine and sail back to Sel-kai to do some further investigating, or step through the mirror. What do you think?"

"Sharna, looks like we're on guard duty again."

“I was born for guard duty”, Sharna replies with a grin as she starts limbering up her wrists.

Ugnan's looks up from the sentence he had read for the fifth time and turns some bleary eyes towards Cran, "There's a lot in here lad but nothing so far." He rubs his eyes and stifles a yawn, "The mirror needs further investigation to be sure but so does some other stuff here before we go. I'd like Lyssa to check out the water logged rooms, if she's up to it. By opening the door to the mirror did that," He gestures towards the horn. "summon anything? Also, I'd like to assemble those tubes and have a look through them, twisting them a bit to see what it reveals." He rubs his beard in thought, "Also that bench by Galen's resting place, why is it there? To seat who?" He ponders some more, clearly trying to resolve some issue within, "Is this place a tomb for the fallen warriors? Was it once a  place of work? Are we the warriors?" Here he falters slightly, "Is it ok for us to loot the dead if it is us who will  be the heroes and need aid? Or will that anger the dead? There are still unopened sarcoph-" A large yawn forces his mouth open stopping his words, "One thing I do know though, I need a drink from that horn to see if it perks me up!"

Cherry: What am I doing here?

Cherry looks around in this crypt that talks of heroes and the world in need. 
“You’re no hero kid”, she says quietly to herself, “you’re a survivor, that’s more important.”
She thinks back to just a few hours ago in that room where the world spun and went blank there was nothing oh so briefly as her mind shut down overwhelmed by that thing, that demon. 
“But you’re here kid, you’re back and you survived, but how?"
Cran, Ugnan, Sharna and Sylke without them you’d be gone or worse, without them I’d have never seen the creature… but where would that have left you? 
A life still on the street surviving on less than nothing but what I can take. Gods, how long ago was that? 
Weeks days months? How life has changed so, I bet my hiding hole in Sel-Kai has already been ransacked or taken over, meh they can have it, and the rats that come with it.  
But what happens next, I know nothing of heroes and magics or fey portals, I know people, scared irrational people, dangerous greedy lust driven secretive. I’m good at finding their secrets, unlocking their barriers and taking their prizes to what pawn off to survive the next day or week?  How heroic… 
What do I know of this team I fell into? 
Cran, the big lummox, a sweet big brother with a terrifying anger, I don’t think any of us beside Sharna could be his match if he lost all control, maybe Sylke can calm him but that’s a dangerous chance to take. 
Ugnan, the book smart father of the group, uncaring of how he is seen for social graces or lack thereof but he will suffer himself for our sakes, that’s a rare trait and one I can’t think of the thought behind, so foreign to me. 
Sylke, undisciplined for one who has such potential for power, curious at every turn, manipulative and on occasion deceitful although I detect no real malice on her part, still be wary of her for one so light in nature on the surface there could be a hidden darkness. 
Sharna, the stoic, so quiet I forget she’s there sometimes yet watching her in action is a sight to behold, I think this woman thinks of nothing but readiness for the next battle. 
Despite my screw ups, they seem to still need me, she grins, well kid we are trapped together so lets make it work and see what happens next, I have enough weight in my purse to buy a small place and live off a job or two if worst comes to worst, always have an out for yourself, so far that’s worked, until we came to this estate.  
So far… 


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